Atalanta defender and Super Eagles prospect Caleb Okoli is on the radar of Turkish Super Lig giants Galatasaray, according to reports.
Born Memeh Caleb Okoli in July 2001 to Nigerian parents in Vincenza, Italy, the 21-year-old has played for Atalanta since he was 15. Loan spells in Serie B with SPAL and Cremonese helped develop him into a solid centre back who is now a part of the Orobici's squad for the 2022/23 season.
He has caught the eye of Super Eagles manager José Peseiro, who toured Italy in March. The Portuguese tactician has asked Ademola Lookman to help convince the young defender to switch his allegiance to Nigeria. Peseiro has also charged the Nigerian Football Federation technical committee with securing his international future.
Having played for the Italian youth sides, however, it is unknown what the outcome of the NFF's technical committee efforts will be. He was also invited to Italy's training camp in May 2022 by senior men's team coach Roberto Mancini and is reportedly still being watched by the national team, which could further put the possibility of his turning out for the Super Eagles in jeopardy.
In the meantime, Okoli continues to make good of the chances he gets with the Orobici, which has drawn the attention of Galatasaray.
He is believed to cost around €20 million despite only getting nine starts in the 13 appearances he has made for the club to date. The Turkish side consider the price fair enough for the young defender who they rate highly.
Atalanta prevented the 21-year-old from moving to Cremonese in January, however, as they count on his ability. Cremonese are currently bottom of the league in Serie A, but Okoli's presence at the club last season helped them secure promotion to the top flight this season. They were hoping to get him to help them stay up but Atalanta blocked the move.
Rafael Toloi, Atalanta captain, echoed the team's feelings towards Okoli at the beginning of the season.
The 31-year-old centre back said of Okoli: “He is very strong physically. He has grown a lot and I find him ready and in the [friendly] matches against Valencia and Newcastle he has shown that he can be there.”
Galatasaray have their work cut out for them in the summer as they look to bag Okoli to strengthen their defence.
La Dea are currently sixth on the Serie A table and are only five points from AC Milan in fourth place. The possibility of turning out for Italy may also make the 21-year-old make the decision to leave the country of his birth for Turkey.
Meanwhile, Okoli's teammate Ademola Lookman has picked up an injury that rules him out of Atalanta's clash on Monday.
Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini explained that Lookman picked up a small injury during training and will not be participating in the game. They are still assessing the extent of the injury and will hope that their leading goalscorer is fit enough for the rest of the season.
This article was most recently revised and updated 11 months ago